Chinese Herbal Medicine, Diet Therapy, Recipes, Uncategorized

Summer – Heart consciousness (Fire series introduction)

Seasonally in the Chinese medicine framework, Summer resonates with the element of Fire. 

Bit of a no-brainer, really, if we take enough time to observe the world around us and the way the Sun heats up, the Earth dries out, fruits  ripen and in Australia, bushfire season starts.  But what happens in human beings during this time, and what impact does it have on our health, according to the ancient Chinese?

Shen – The Core of Heart Based Consciousness

The Shen, or “conscious consciousness”, is anchored in the Heart (the TCM organ system, not necessarily the physical organ), and is the most often affected aspect of disturbance of the Fire element. Describing the Shen can be challenging, but essentially it is the part of us that is capable of opening perception, worldview, connection with other beings, and engagement with our environment on a conscious and authentic level.  It is often translated as “Mind”, or “Heart-Mind” but it goes beyond pure intellectual thought and also veers into the realm of emotional intelligence.

The Positively Vibrating Heart


According to the ancient Chinese, when our Heart Qi is balanced, with enough Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood to anchor and support it, its resounding emotion is Joy. When we vibrate or resonate at a joyous frequency, with free and gentle consciousness, performing daily duties & tasks with unconditional love and going happily about our daily lives, this is seen to be the Heart-Mind-Shen-Spirit-Consciousness in balance.  The analogy is like the picture to the right – warm, contained, yet strong, pure and bright.

Shen imbalance or Spirit disturbance – association with mental health

Blockages or deficiencies of what we refer to as the “Heart organ system” in Chinese medicine rarely has much to do with atria & ventricles as we would expect, however some pathologies carry physiological symptoms as well as psycho-emotional ones.  It’s best to get those checked by a GP.  This article is concerned with the intangible aspects of the Heart consciousness in Chinese medicine – Shen disturbance. In your practitioner’s view, Shen disturbance looks cloudy or dull, or overzealous and fiery – even more than the Fire energy of the season.

What can disturb the Shen?

Many different circumstances can trigger Shen disturbance, but it depends on how we react or respond to them, or even if we respond at all.  Our responses and reactions develop as we go through life, but many are created during childhood, from familial patterning, traumatic experiences, our diet and parental care patterns as we are growing up, in addition to the life experiences and daily trials that we gain from exposure to the world at large.   Awareness of our constitutional tendencies – DNA-related and ancestral patterning, along with learned behaviours – helps us understand why we think the way we do, and give us the information we need to find the path through, and hopefully out of, both short-term energetic imbalances as well as long-standing, generational mental patterns.

What can be done?

With a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, meditation, diet, exercise and talking, your treatment is tailored specifically to your individual needs.  Cultivating the Spirit, or “Shen” in Chinese medicine philosophy, is as important and vital as bodily health and function.  The Shen can be seen as a combination of mental and spiritual health concerns.  How are either of those things relevant in a general health context? According to this article published in the WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health,  a healthy spiritual life can “… have a positive correlation with survival, reduction of high blood pressure, less remission time from depression, reduced number of cigarettes smoked per day per week and lowered severe medical illness.”

Chinese medicine has the tools that get your Shen straightened out.  

If you would like to work on your Shen using ancient wisdom with a modern twist,

call 0422 353 446, or book a time via Cliniko for the Daylesford clinic. 


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